A couple weeks ago I wrote about the harrowing death of Rebecca Ann Sedwick.
Rebecca Ann was 12 years old. She was in middle school. And she became so distraught as a result of online cruelty, she jumped from a platform at an abandoned cement plant.
Yesterday's New York Times reports that the Polk County sheriff's office (Florida) has decided to file charges against two of Rebecca's peers, one who is 12, another who is 14. The girls were charged with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony.
According to the Times, the sheriff's office was focusing on a number of online comments, particularly one from the Facebook account of the 14-year-old. As the Times reports: "In Internet shorthand it began 'Yes, ik' -- I know -- 'I bullied Rebecca nd she killed herself.' The writer concluded that she didn't care, using an obscenity to make the point and a heart as a perverse flourish."
The owner of the account claims it was hacked, and that she did not post the comment.
One noteworthy element brought to light by the Times is the anger of Sheriff Grady Judd, particularly at parents.
Brimming with outrage and incredulity, the sheriff said in a news conference on Tuesday that he was stunned by the older girl’s Saturday Facebook posting. But he reserved his harshest words for the girl’s parents for failing to monitor her behavior, after she had been questioned by the police, and for allowing her to keep her cellphone.
“I’m aggravated that the parents are not doing what parents should do: after she is questioned and involved in this, why does she even have a device?” Sheriff Judd said. “Parents, who instead of taking that device and smashing it into a thousand pieces in front of that child, say her account was hacked.”
The article indicates that the sheriff's office is also asking for information from two cellphone application companies, Kik Messenger and ask.fm, which may have been additional avenues for taunting and mockery.
Read the full story here.
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